CRITERION COLLECTION: 100 Furious Films Pt. 10

Here it is, the final installment in our handpicked list of 100 Criterion Collection classics on Blu Ray and DVD. We hope that through this guide readers will discover many more “furious” movies that will become new favorites as they are now ours. The main goal of this blog series was to showcase the diversity of fantastic cinema Criterion has in its expansive home video library. We happen to love it all, from the French New Wave to Italian Neo-Realism to Japanese cult films to American indies and beyond. Film in its many forms and styles is what it’s about for us. Of course we urge film collectors to explore all the movies that Criterion has to offer. Thanks very much for checking these posts out and please be sure to use our Amazon links if you do order any of the titles we’ve chosen as a way to support our network of film websites.

CRITERION PICKS: PART ONETWOTHREEFOURFIVESIXSEVENEIGHTNINETEN

8 1/2 (1963, Dir: Federico Fellini)

A visionary, experimental masterpiece of cinema starring Marcello Mastrianni as Guido Anselmi a filmmaker who is experiencing a frustrating block in creativity while working on his latest production, a sci-fi film. As Guido tries to regain focus with his cast and crew, a series of surreal flashbacks and daydreams take us through his personal memories, desires and fears as an artist and human being. Co-starring Anouk Aimée, Rossella Falk, Sandra Milo, Claudia Cardinale.

Love Streams (1984, Dir: John Cassavetes)

For those of us who love the films of John Cassavetes, this final production in his personalized filmography which began with Shadows (1959) is a crowning achievement. The story concerns two siblings, Robert Harmon (Cassavetes) a hard living bachelor and his sister Sarah (Gena Rowlands) who is also his best friend. Following an altercation with his ex-wife’s new husband over his young son, Robert travels to see Sarah who is going through her own painful struggles due to a divorce. As they visit and delve into their flawed lives, they try to get to the heart of the subject Cassavetes was most interested in with his work: Love. Co-starring Diahnne Abbott, Seymour Cassel.

Pickup on South Street (1953, Dir: Sam Fuller)

In this Cold War themed film noir classic, Richard Widmark plays crafty, wisecrackin pickpocket Skip McCoy. After lifting some goods out of a purse owned by a cute chicky named Candy (Jean Peters), Skip discovers he has some secret microfilm belonging to her ex-boyfriend Joey (Richard Kiley), a communist spy. When Joey finds out about Skip, he quickly begins trying to find out where he is by having Candy inquire around town. Meanwhile, Skip is also being sought after by the Government and police since he is thought to be part of the spy outfit. During the tense game of cat and mouse, Skip, the lone grifter and Candy, the sweet dame who at first have a confrontational relationship, start falling in love. Sam Fuller is at his best, delivering a pulpy, snappy dialogue filled, crackerjack crime film where there are really no good guys, just colorful street urchins who are concerned with one thing: survival.

The Hidden Fortress (1958, Dir: Akira Kurosawa)

Two scruffy, comical peasants (Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara) accompany a defeated General (Toshiro Mifune) and a Princess (Misa Uehara) on a mission to help secure a cache of gold belonging to her clan. Along the way the band of unrelated travelers are tasked with overcoming several obstacles in their way. A highly influential, landmark action-adventure set in the jidaigeki genre that combines Kurosawa’s trademark humor and heroic action in brilliant fashion. This film would later serve as the structural basis for one of the greatest science fiction sagas in film history: Star Wars.

Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy (1945-48)

Rome, Open City (starring Aldo Fabrizi, Anna Magnani, Marcello Pagliero) takes place in Nazi occupied 1943 Rome where the SS are trying to take down the Resistance and goto extreme lengths to accomplish the task. Paisan (starring Carmela Sazio, Robert Van Loon, Dots Johnson, Alfonsino) is an emotionally poignant 6 episode series set against the Allied invasions of Sicily, Rome, Florence and Naples. Germany Year Zero (starring Edmund Moeschke, Ernst Pittschau, Ingetraud Hinze, Franz-Otto Krüger) goes outside Italy and focuses on a young German boy who is trying to survive with his family in the devastation of post WWII Berlin. Each film in this trilogy is a truly wonderful and culturally important low budget masterpiece from the Italian Neo-Realist period that we highly recommend to classic cinema enthusiasts.

Wild Strawberries (1957, Dir: Ingmar Bergman)

Victor Sjöström is Professor Isak Borg a 78 year old physician that is being awarded a prestigious degree by his almer mater. On his car trip from his home in Stockholm to Lund where the school is located, he begins experiencing nightmares and dreams. He also picks up a number of hitchhikers that seem to represent parts of his past and present life in familiar ways. A beautifully filmed, emotionally resonant road movie. Bergman was inspired to create this vision of one man’s existential journey from a personal experience he had while visiting his grandmother’s home one day in which he imagined it would be the same as in his childhood. Co-starring Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, Gunnar Björnstrand.

Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954, Dir: Don Siegel)

This tough as nails film noir takes place behind the walls of the real Folsom State Prison (where it was shot) as inmates are holding protests for their worsening living conditions. Their leader in the fight is Dunn (Neville Brand) who wants to convey to the warden and the media outside just why the prisoners are starting a violent uprising. Meanwhile the authorities try to decrease tensions by any means possible including a shaky deal with Dunn. An explosively entertaining jail genre thriller that also has a message. Sam Peckinpah, an early protege of Siegel was instrumental in getting access to Folsom prison thanks to his family’s respected reputation. Co-starring Emile Meyer, Frank Faylen, Leo Gordon, Robert Osterloh. We also recommend Siegel’s later Escape From Alcatraz with Clint Eastwood.

Tokyo Drifter (1966, Dir: Seijun Suzuki)

An ousted Yakuza member Tetsuya “Phoenix Tetsu” Hondo (Tetsuya Watari) is betrayed when his former boss joins forces with a rival and sends out a lethal hitman (Tamio Kawaji) to kill him. Tetsu sets off on his own, a lone outlaw in the bright, bustling city of Tokyo evading his pursuer. A highly stylized work of absurdist Japanese pop cinema from Nikkatsu studios that contains surrealist imagery filmed in garishly extravagant color. An Eastern based cult classic injected with Western genre motifs and slick social commentary on the dishonorable aspects of the Yakuza lifestyle.

Il Sorpasso (1962, dir: Dino Risi)

The English translation of this film’s title is “The Easy Life” and well, thats what it’s all about. On a sunny summer day in Rome, college student Roberto (Jean-Louis Trintignant) encounters a passing stranger in a car named Bruno (Vittorio Gassman) who asks him out for a drink. This abrupt meeting begins a joyful, carefree road trip with the two new traveling companions as they drive along the coast and get to know more about each others lives in the process. A popular cult film that took place in Italy during the early 60s when the traditional family based values were becoming replaced more individualistic ones.

Rififi (1955, Dir: Jules Dassin)

Jean Servais stars as Tony “le Stéphanois”, a newly released prisoner who upon his arrival back in Paris hooks up with old friend Mario (Robert Manuel) and an acquaintance Cesar (Dassin) a safecracker to pull off a new heist. Complications soon arise from the trio’s personal problems outside their criminal activities. When it comes to heist films, this is one of the benchmark jewels of the subgenre. Shot for a mere $200,000! A must own for the crime genre aficionado. Co-starring Carl Möhner, Janine Darcey, Magali Noël.

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Peter

Editor-In-Chief of The Grindhouse Cinema Database/Furious Cinema contributor. Pete is a rabid movie geek who enjoys everything from wild n' crazy exploitation/cult flix to big budget mainstream classics. His other interests include: graphic design, cartooning and music.

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